Thursday, January 18, 2018

"Church Plan" Class Action Settled

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court held that retirement plans of religiously affiliated health care systems qualify as "church plans" exempt from ERISA. (See prior posting.) Now a settlement has been approved by an Illinois federal district court in a class action suit against Ascension, the largest Catholic health care system in the country. The suit was one of many that challenged the availability of the  church plan exemption.  As reported by Cook County Record:
Under the deal, Ascension agreed to pay $29.5 million into a trust fund, and agreed to not reduce any retiree accrued benefits for at least the next seven years, and provide various annual plan notices, “equitable provisions that mimic certain provisions” of the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, according to a memorandum filed by plaintiffs in support of the settlement.
However, the deal would allow Ascension to buy out its full obligation, by contributing $25 million to the trust fund.